Archive for April 2014

Apr 24 2014

Sarongs for All Body Types

about sarongs and pareos / uses for sarongs - 4 years ago -

The word “sarong” usually conjures up images of a brightly colored wraparound skirt on some lean beach body, usually a girl. This is usually the case in most resort settings, especially in the tropics, where the sarong is part of customary garb.

Plus Size Sarong - Rainbow Colored Tie-Dye Sarong

Plus Size Sarong – Rainbow Colored Tie-Dye Sarong

In the tropics, you will find that the sarong has long been worn by both men and women and that the stereotypical beach body is more the exception than the rule.  On many Pacific islands you will find the population wearing sarongs or pareos as a regular part of their dress. Men are often seen wearing a dark sarong with a light-colored button-down shirt for office wear. And many women wear the sarong with blouses or as dresses, regardless of figure.

Think, in this case, of Juanita Hall, who plays Bloody Mary in South Pacific. Bloody Mary is not exactly petite; she embodies the typical figure of more mature women in the Pacific islands, especially among Polynesians, with more than the usual curves. However, it does not dissuade them from wearing a garment that can be both loose and form-fitting at the same time, a garment that is solidly part of their culture and tradition.

The sarong’s versatility should not be limited by the impression that it is limited only to a small segment of the population of the world. Anyone can wear a sarong (in appropriate styles and venues, of course). If men can wear the sarong with their business shirts and even as a complement to their cutaway coats, then women can also use it for regular wear.

There are many fastening methods to use. One favorite is to tuck a loose end into a fold that will hold for much of the day, although a safety pin handy would be recommended. For color and texture, it can be as bright and multi-colored as one would desire, with some models bearing metallic threads as major accents to complement the rich hues of more formal variants. More casual sarongs will be of a lighter, beach worthy cotton or rayon, and may be batik, tie-dyed or printed.

Remember that the sarong’s versatility as a variable garment or accessory is complemented by the diversity of its wearers. Therefore, to any woman who wants to wear one but thinks it won’t suit her figure, here’s my two cents: wear it and rock it.


Apr 18 2014

The Traveling Sarong

about sarongs and pareos / Crafts / uses for sarongs - 4 years ago -

The woman traveler never knows if her kit is properly made up. For the most part, sensible footwear and walking clothes are standard, as are a change of shirt, socks, and underwear. Once in a while, even the dusty traveler might be invited to visit someplace that has a dress code (e.g. a place of worship or a fancy restaurant) in their current host country. In one of those spur of the moment cases, what does one do?

Solid Black Sarong

Solid Black Sarong

Fortunately, she can be thankful for the sarong, one of the most practical and versatile garments that has ever graced a wardrobe. Next to the little black dress that fashion icon Coco Chanel popularized as a must-have, the sarong has entered our style lexicon as a go-to item “just in case’ of a lot of things. It’s long, lightweight, and can be used in so many settings.

In principle, a sarong (or pareo, as some Polynesian people call it) is a rectangular piece of fabric that is wrapped around one’s waist as a skirt. It can be one and a half to two yards or more long and usually drapes from the waist to the ankles.

Among many cultures, the sarong and its local variants constitute a regular part of both sexes’ wardrobe. Men and women have worn it for centuries, especially in tropical climates (like in Tonga or Myanmar) or in arid coastal sites (as in Yemen) to the point that they survived the introduction of pants. These days, however, we are more likely to associate the sarong with the fairer sex as beachwear or light casual wear. For the beach, it doubles as a wraparound skirt over your swimsuit and as your beach blanket and mat. In town, you can wear it as a dress (when knotted properly) or as a shawl. If you need a pouch in a jiffy, you can transform your sarong into a handy tote to carry some lightweight belongings.

As a textile product, the sarong comes in a variety of lightweight fabrics like rayon and cotton, even silk for dressier occasions. The basic fabric can be dyed in a spectrum of colors and patterns, ranging from solids to tie-dyed and beautiful batik. It is this versatility in appearance that adds to the value of a sarong as a stand-alone garment or an accessory; the right sarong for the right occasion. Personally, a solid colored sarong in any dark hues (such as black, gray, or navy) will do double duty for any travel need.